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What is Coffee, & Where Does it Come From?

Written by Lisette Gavina Lopez.

Coffee is a beverage that most of us drink in the morning to help jump-start the day. But coffee is so much more than a just beverage.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil, and it provides for millions of people around the globe who plant, grow, harvest, process, store, export, import, transport, roast, pack, wholesale, retail and brew nature’s gift for our enjoyment. But what is coffee and where does coffee come from?

Coffee is an agricultural product.

The actual coffee beans are the seeds of a cherry from a bush hat grows between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Most of the world's coffee is from Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia, but it grows in over 30 countries across the globe.

Coffee is native to East Africa.

The legend  starts with Kaldi, an Ethiopian goat herder, who discovered coffee when he noticed his goats “dancing” with energy after eating red cherries from a wild bush.  He then ate some cherries and noticed their energizing power in himself, and later, hared them with a local Abbott who called them God’s gift ideal for praying all night with his monks.

Distinct coffee plant species: Arabica and Robusta.

The world produces two distinctly different species of the coffee plant, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica coffee is mostly used in Specialty or Gourmet Coffee. Because of its superior quality and flavor, Arabica coffee is more expensive than Robusta, and it’s also more delicate than the Robusta plant as it needs the right climate, elevation and care to grow. Robusta coffee, with it’s harsher more bitter flavor, is used in lower quality less expensive coffees because it is low-priced and can grow in virtually any climate at any elevation with little to no care. 

Coffee is a young beverage.

While tea is over 5000 years old, it was not until the early 1400s, that brewed coffee was discovered. This was around the same time that metal pots in which water could be boiled over a fire, appeared in the East. This made it possible for the coffee sun tea to be made more quickly by boiling leaves, cherries, and seeds in water. The combination of fire and coffee seeds most probably led to the creation of coffee. Perhaps a pot of tea boiled dry or tipped into the fire, giving the world the first (very rustic), brewed coffee from roasted beans.

America’s first love was tea, not coffee.

It wasn't until about 1683 that Americans discovered coffee. New York, known as New Amsterdam at the time, was a tea totaling city, still borrowing the afternoon tea habits of their English brothers. One of the first recorded coffee drinkers was William Penn, who, once having settled in his Pennsylvania Colony, hired a New York importer to secure a stash of coffee for his personal use. Strangely enough, this trend toward coffee in America can be largely attributed to tea. In 1773, Bostonians hosted the Boston Tea Party, proclaiming freedom from colonists and selected coffee as the patriotic beverage of choice.

As you can see, there are a lot of historical fun facts about coffee. Stay tuned for more information and news about your favorite beverage from Project LIFE.

 

Lisette Gavina Lopez
Lisette Gavina Lopez

With a rich coffee heritage that spans 4 generations and a lifetime of coffee learning growing up in the Gaviña family coffee roasting business, Lisette actively works to expand her coffee knowledge and that of foodservice professionals and consumers. Her background is in brand marketing in beauty and coffee, and she is lover of food, art, wine, a.. Read more

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